Markey: Gulf Oil Rig Explosion Highlights Continued Dangers of Offshore Drilling

Accident at Rig Claims 2 Lives, 2 Missing; Comes Day After BP Criminal Settlement

WASHINGTON (November 16, 2012) – Just one day following the federal government’s settlement with BP for 14 criminal charges relating to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, another explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico claimed two lives today, with two more missing and several injured. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today expressed sympathy for the deceased, missing and wounded workers, and renewed his call for increased safety measures for offshore drilling.
Yesterday, BP pled guilty to felony manslaughter charges relating to the 11 deaths on the Deepwater Horizon, to violations of various environmental laws, and obstruction of Congress for lying to Rep. Markey about the size of the spill. The company will pay a record $4.5 billion criminal penalty for their disaster.
Below is the statement of Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee:
“BP and the government may have settled criminal matters yesterday, but today’s incident shows that increasing safety of offshore drilling and for  hard-working men and women is still not a settled matter. I express my deepest sympathy to the workers and their families affected by today’s incident.
“The Coast Guard and the Department of Interior have informed my committee staff that the fire is out, and they are responding to aid the victims. The fire on the Black Elk Energy rig reportedly occurred when construction crews cut through a line with a torch. The shallow-water platform had shut in all wells before the incident. There are conflicting reports about whether there is pollution in the water, and what exactly the source of the pollution is.
“This incident raises a number of questions about the nature and adequacy of safety measures on this offshore rig, and I will be asking Black Elk, the Department of Interior and the Coast Guard for full reports on this latest tragedy.
“This is yet another reminder that our work on oil drilling safety is not complete. The Obama administration has taken important steps to increase safety standards for blowout preventers, well design and construction in offshore drilling. Congress still needs to pass legislation that codifies the actions taken by the Obama administration, increases penalties and liabilities for companies that spill and ensures that the agencies charged with overseeing offshore oil drilling have the resources they need to protect workers and the environment.”

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